The Key Question: Whose Organization Is It?

Nonprofits come in many different shapes and sizes, and they are more effective if their governing instruments reflect the constituencies that must be represented to make them work. Nonprofit consultants and “best practices” commentators often seem to assume that there is an ideal structure for nonprofit organizations that is embodied in a standardized set of bylaws taken off the shelf. But nonprofits are not all alike. They are formed for many purposes, representing many constituencies, with many subtle issues of control. This 3-page Ready Reference Page (published by Don Kramer’s Nonprofit Issues and revised in 2013) is a “must read” and an especially helpful resource for nonprofit startups, as it provides an introduction to critical governance considerations for nonprofits.

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This document is not legal advice. You should consult a lawyer with experience representing Pennsylvania nonprofits before signing and filing documents. Every startup nonprofit is different, and a lawyer can help guide you through the startup process and the important considerations relevant for your particular organization.